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Republicans claim remap is unconstitutionally imbalanced

Monday, Aug 16, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Subscribers know more. Press release…

The official 2020 decennial counts released by the U.S. Census Bureau on August 12 confirm that the Democrats’ redistricting plan, H.B. 2777, violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, as well as comparable provisions of the Illinois Constitution. Accordingly, no lawful redistricting plan was effective on June 30, 2021. The Illinois Constitution is clear that responsibility for the plan has shifted to the bipartisan Legislative Redistricting Commission.

“Just as we predicted, the maps that were drawn by Illinois Democrats in a closed room and without public input, and signed by Governor Pritzker, have proven to be unusable and unlawful given the release of the U.S. Census data,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “It is now up to the Legislative Redistricting Commission to draw the fair maps our state so desperately needs.”

The Democrats’ proposed House districts have population counts ranging from 92,390 (District 83) to 124,836 (District 5)—a difference of 32,446. Based on a test directed by the U.S. Supreme Court, that difference represents a total population range of 29.88 percent, which is three times the maximum range allowed by federal law. Because the Democrats’ plan unequivocally violates federal law, it is and will be declared void.

“Despite bipartisan pleas to wait for the Census number like 48 other states, Illinois Democratic politicians that were led by Governor Pritzker ignored the voting rights of their own constituents in an attempt to hold absolute power for another decade,” said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods). “By breaking his promise and signing this map that has now been proven to be widely inaccurate, Governor Pritzker once again sided with political insiders against the people of Illinois.”


    • The US Census Bureau released the official 2020 decennial census counts, which is sometimes called P.L. 94-171 data, on August 12, 2021. Those counts were released in “legacy format,” which means that they are capable of being read by computer programs commonly used in redistricting and by demographers and statisticians. The Bureau will release interactive data for public consumption later in September, but the counts will be unchanged.
    • Experts and consultants retained by the House and Senate Republican Caucuses computed the population counts for each district in the Democrats’ redistricting plan (H.B. 2777). This is done by overlaying the Democrats’ district boundaries on the population counts.
    • This is a simple tabulation. Any qualified person attempting to perform the same calculation will arrive at the same counts by district. Unlike the use of ACS estimates, the Census counts are reported to the block-level, so no manipulation, assumptions, or algorithms are needed.
    • The U.S. Supreme Court provided instructions for calculating the so-called “maximum population deviation” in Evenwel v. Abbott(2016), based on an earlier 1975 case (Chapman v. Meier). The maximum population deviation of a plan is the sum of the percentage deviations of the most-populated and least-populated districts from perfect population equality.
    • The Democrats’ redistricting plan has a maximum population deviation of 29.88 percent, which is three times the maximum deviation allowed by federal law (10 percent). The least-populated House district is House District 83 (92,390 people), which is 14.91 percent below the average district population, and the most-populated House district is House District 5 (124,836), which is 14.97 percent above the average district population.
    • This total deviation of approximately 30 percent is within the range forecasted in the Republican Leaders’ complaint filed in federal court. Based on simulations of the use of 2005-2009 ACS estimates compared to the 2010 decennial census counts, we had forecasted a deviation of at least 23 percent.
    • Because the Democrats’ plan violates federal law, the Republican Leaders have asked the federal court to declare H.B. 2777 void, meaning it was never of any force or effect. The Illinois Constitution is clear that if no valid plan was in effect on June 30th, responsibility for enacting a plan shifts to the bipartisan Legislative Redistricting Commission.

This post may be updated. But, as I told subscribers earlier today, the Democrats do not agree with the Republican claim about what this development may do to the existing maps.

* Meanwhile, my weekly syndicated newspaper column went over some of the same ground we covered here last week

In the wake of last week’s Census numbers release, the news media has widely reported a seeming reduction in the number of white people, both nationally and here in Illinois.

“Census shows U.S. is diversifying, white population shrinking,” the Associated Press reported.

“Overall, in the five collar counties [of the Chicago area], the white population declined by 183,869 over the past decade,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

But is that true?

The Census Bureau itself claims that racial and Hispanic origin population changes are “largely due to improvements in the design of the two separate questions for race data collection and processing, as well as some demographic changes over the past 10 years.” The Census Bureau has been working since 2015 to find a different way to ask questions that yielded more informative and realistic results. And the Bureau now claims the tweaks it ended up making to its questions yielded, “a more accurate portrait of how people report their Hispanic origin and race.”

In other words, while significant population increases, decreases, movements and racial mixtures undoubtedly did occur, the new Census questions mean people are supposedly now more able to self-define who they really are, and that has resulted in a major change in the results.

The number of people identifying as white alone “dropped 14% during the 10-year period,” the State Journal-Register reported on the Illinois results. “Meanwhile, the number of people who said they are white and at least one other race rose by 334%, or 820,879 people.” If the Census Bureau is right about the impact of its changes, then all those 800,000+ people didn’t just materialize in the past decade. Many or even most were already here.

The same goes for Black people. “The number of people identifying as Black alone, about 1.8 million people, dropped 3.1%” in Illinois, the State Journal-Register reported. “However, those who said they were Black and at least one other race increased by 76,243, or almost 89%.”

And the 15 % increase here of folks with “Hispanic origin” may have as much to do with the Bureau’s new and “more accurate portrait” than an actual change.

Anyway, it’s food for thought, especially since legislative and congressional districts are drawn with those results in mind.

…Adding… Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy…

“Illinois Democrats forged ahead with a nakedly partisan and sham process of politicians drawing their own districts behind closed doors in the face of repeated pleas from good government reformers and community groups to wait until the official census numbers were released. Democrats refused. Now the courts have no option but to strike down this wildly unconstitutional amatuer artwork presentation masquerading as a lawful legislative map. It’s time for the bi-partisan map-making process to take over.”

* Related…

* 2020 census will fuel Black-Latino power struggle over Chicago ward map. ‘It’s absolutely going to get ugly.’

* Census shifts put power up for grabs but some see Hispanic Chicago mayor by end of decade


  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 9:58 am:

    To the post,

    The political aspects/fallout of a partisan map at this juncture is now going to be overrun with new maps that will be predicated as part of a “census reset”… allowing for the rationale to be census centric.

    The Dems should be welcoming this kind of power play, if the Republicans want to make this census driven, “fine”, the census tracks are not in the best interest of the old, angry, white, and rural that is seemingly the *only* demographic that identifies “Republican” in an Illinois political spectrum.

    Draw new maps, pass em, sign em, tout em as a census reset, even make it exactly about the Republican beefs on census data, another self-own for the ILGOP.

    “We’ll see”

  2. - JS Mill - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 10:12 am:

    The “whine & cheese” club strikes again. The ILGOP has completely transitioned to a party whose only action is that of a facebook troll. Complain, but offer no substantive alternative.

    The loss of a seat will be from rural Illinois, since that is where the population loss is happening. It is only a convenient happenstance that it is also where the radical far right is based (primarily but not solely).

  3. - Jocko - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 10:23 am:

    I recall the ILGOP’s silence when Trump tried (and failed) to put the citizenship question on the census…possibly contributing to an undercount in Aurora.

  4. - 47th Ward - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 10:26 am:

    Somewhere in the secret room in the basement of the Capitol, a room so secret it’s been reported by dozens of news outlets and seen by nearly all legislators, a computer is starting to hum.

    Numbers will be crunched. Districts will be squeezed. Parameters set previously will be maintained and *poof* a new map will appear and an amendment will come to the floor.

  5. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 10:29 am:

    ==Numbers will be crunched. Districts will be squeezed.==

    And most likely downstate districts will be enlarged and moved further north. (Based on what I saw on Dave’s Redistricting App this weekend, when he had the new census numbers on there to some maps I had previously drawn).

  6. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 10:36 am:

    Add “unconstitutional” to the list of words, that include “hero” and “patriot”, that have been tossed around to the point they are now meaningless.

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 11:56 am:

    “Now the courts have no option but to strike down this wildly unconstitutional amatuer artwork presentation masquerading as a lawful legislative map.”

    I’m sure this is exactly the GOP position in Ohio, PA, TX, NC and all those other states the GOP has gerrymandered within an inch of their lives.

  8. - Socially DIstant watcher - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 1:01 pm:

    The Republicans’ goal is not transparency or anything like a fair map. As their release makes plain, they’re trying to force a coin toss that might give them complete control of the process.

    Crocodile tears

  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 1:08 pm:

    The Republicans need to get the coin flip.

    Otherwise… no better off than where they sit today.

    And they aren’t expanding the tent in any way now or in the future

  10. - anon2 - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 1:21 pm:

    If the GOP wins in court and then wins the coin flip, they will have the chance to demonstrate their fidelity to nonpartisan, transparent, map-making that is the opposite of the partisan gerrymandering they so abhor.

  11. - PublicServant - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 2:14 pm:

    I think the GOP is unconstitutionally imbalanced. Oh and they’re partisan, and their lawsuit is a sham. See, I can use those charged words too.

  12. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Aug 16, 21 @ 4:44 pm:

    Compare what Republicans said to what The Constitution says:

    “If no redistricting plan becomes effective by June 30 of
    that year, a Legislative Redistricting Commission shall be
    constituted not later than July 10.”

    I would say that there was a redistricting plan in effect by June 30. It may now be challenged in court, and the court might order the boundaries redrawn in part or in whole, but the body that will have to redraw it will be the Legislature, not the commission.

    Illinois Republicans are about 0-6 on their interpretation of the Constitution over the last two decades, I would not put much stock in their legal opinion.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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